The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

3:43 p.m.: It may be harder for Ontario’s health system to quickly respond to a future surge in critically ill COVID-19 patients, as non-virus care ramps up and workers contend with burnout, according to a new report.

The report on critical care capacity from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table was published Tuesday as the province logged 153 patients in intensive care units. It recommends sustained public health measures to preserve hospital capacity.

Researchers found that coordination across the health system during the first three waves of the pandemic, which involved nearly 1,000 patient transfers, redeploying staff and ramping down non-urgent surgeries, helped avoid the worst case scenario — critical care triage.

But the province is now prioritizing non-COVID procedures that have been delayed and staff who haven’t left the workforce are burnt out and dealing with higher workloads, said Dr. Kali Barrett, a critical care physician who was the lead researcher on the study.

That means the health system can still respond, but without some of the same flexibility available in previous waves, she said.

“We made it through the previous waves and we were there for the needs of the Ontario public, and our priority and our goal will be to do the same … but it would be harder in a successive time,” Barrett said.

Among other factors, the report also highlighted “a near complete absence” of influenza transmission during the last flu season, likely due to COVID-related public health measures, which helped free up intensive care space. Recent projections indicate that won’t be the case this year, the report said, so the flu may sicken more people this coming winter.

The report also examined peak periods of intensive care occupancy during the pandemic. The first wave saw a lower-than-average number of patients in intensive care, and the second and third waves saw numbers “well above” historical averages for intensive care occupancy. At the peak of the third wave, the number of patients on ventilators in Ontario was at 180 per cent of the pre-pandemic historic average.

3:42 p.m.: The vast majority of Nova Scotia public sector workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, but some services may still be affected, according to officials.

The province said in a news release on Tuesday that 99 per cent of government employees and 99 per cent of front-line health-care workers and of paramedics and education staff have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Public sector workers have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to submit their vaccination status to the province or risk unpaid leave.

Despite the high vaccination rates, the small number of unvaccinated workers who are forced on leave might create service disruptions, the government said. Officials added that the Seniors and Long-Term Care Department had been dealing with pre-vaccine mandate labour shortages, which could mean some facilities and home-care agencies may not be able to accept new residents — even if a small number of employees in that sector are put on leave.

Premier Tim Houston said in a statement Tuesday that the disruptions should be minor given how many people are vaccinated.

All provincial agencies have contingency plans in case employees are placed on leave, but most don’t expect to need them, according to officials.

3:39 p.m.: Saskatchewan says 40 people who have recently travelled from southern Africa are quarantining following the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, but there have been no confirmed cases in the province.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, says the travellers had arrived in the province within the last 14 days from countries that include South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia.

“They are required under the Quarantine Act to isolate at home for 14 days, and they’ve also been directed to get a test on arrival,” Shahab said.

He said just under half have submitted tests for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and public health officials are waiting for the results.

“We suspect most, if not all to be negative,” Shahab said.

He added that, should there be a positive test, the province is prepared to do genome sequencing to determine if the Delta or Omicron variant is involved.

Shahab said he is confident the province will be able to detect and contain an initial Omicron case but he cautioned the situation could rapidly evolve, as community transmission of the variant is happening in other countries.

Health Minister Paul Merriman said for now things will remain “status quo” in the province, and no new COVID-19 measures are set to be introduced.

3:33 p.m.: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided that National Guard members who refuse COVID-19 vaccination will be barred from federally funded drills and training required to maintain their Guard status.

Austin spelled out the policy in an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press. In the memo, he instructed leaders of the military services Tuesday to publish guidance by next week on dealing with Guard members who fail to meet military medical readiness requirements by refusing the vaccine.

“Vaccination is essential to the health and readiness of the force,” he wrote.

All members of the military are required to be vaccinated unless they obtain an official waiver for medical or other reasons.

The military services have set varying deadlines that apply to active and reserve forces. Members of the Air Guard must be vaccinated by December; Army Guard members have until June. Austin’s policy will affect Guard members only when the vaccination deadline set by their service has been reached.

Under federal law, members of the National Guard must assemble for drills and participate in training a specific number of days per year.

Austin said those Guard members who are not allowed to participate in drills due to their refusal to be vaccinated will not be paid by the Defense Department. And they will not receive credit that would count toward retirement and other federal benefits. Austin told the service leaders to implement that policy in coordination with the chief of the National Guard Bureau and the Pentagon’s top personnel officer.

When Guard troops are on state active duty, such as responding to local emergencies like flooding, they report to their governor and are paid by their state. But during monthly or annual training or when they are responding to larger emergencies in the state, they are controlled by the governor but funded by the federal government. This is known as Title 32 status, which is distinct from situations in which Guard members may be called to active duty for federal service, known as Title 10 status.

3:20 p.m.: Police in North Bay, Ont., say they are investigating reports of people being accosted by protesters at a children’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

They say officers were at the clinic on Sunday and are reviewing the actions of individuals and interviewing victims.

Police say they will increase their presence at vaccination clinics going forward.

They say they respect individuals’ rights to protest peacefully.

But they say but they will not tolerate interference with people’s right to safety when attending a vaccination clinic.

2:50 p.m.:Canada is adding Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt to the list of African countries from which it is banning travellers amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19’s Omicron variant.

The Star has confirmed the latest additions to the previous list of seven countries from which travellers will not be admitted to Canada, which was announced on Friday. Other measures are expected to be announced at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Canada expanded its travel ban as the Netherlands acknowledged Tuesday that the Omicron variant appeared to have reached that country before it was identified in South Africa last week.

The federal cabinet approved the new steps at a meeting Tuesday morning, a source said.

Read the full story from the Star’s Tonda MacCharles

2:20 p.m.: After a one month grace period that allowed for negative COVID test results in place of proof of vaccination, unvaccinated travellers will, for the most part, no longer be allowed to get on a plane or passenger train in Canada.

Transport Canada made the announcement in October and allowed travellers until Nov. 29 to show a negative molecular (PCR) test taken within 72 hours of travel in place of proof of vaccination.

The changes take place on the same day Ontario marks a grim milestone surpassing 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in the province. The national death toll is nearing 30,000.

Read the Star’s Ivy Mak on everything you need to know before travelling.

2:20 p.m.: South Africa’s envoy in Ottawa is calling on Canada to support a waiver on patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines to end “vaccine apartheid” as her country copes with the fallout of its discovery of the new Omicron variant.

South African High Commissioner Sibongiseni Dlamini-Mntambo said South Africa and India have drafted a waiver at the World Trade Organization that calls for patents on COVID-19 vaccines that big pharmaceutical companies hold to be suspended to speed up their manufacture and distribution to less developed countries.

“Unfortunately, Canada is one of those countries that have not supported us,” Dlamini-Mntambo said in an interview.

Numerous experts have long predicted that new variants would emerge in less developed countries if the pace of vaccinating their citizens lags behind richer countries.

2 p.m.: Social media misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine clinics is causing alarm for some parents in Durham, and headaches for schools.

Posts are circulating on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that suggest COVID vaccine clinics for children are taking place at local schools during the school day — and that students could be vaccinated without parent consent.

The Durham District School Board (DDSB), Durham Catholic District School Board, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (KPRDSB) and Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB) all confirm there are no vaccine clinics scheduled to take place in local schools during school hours.

2:00 p.m.: Nova Scotia says 99 per cent of government employees and 99 per cent of front-line health-care workers and of paramedics and education staff have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The government made the announcement in a news release today — deadline day for public sector workers to be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 or face unpaid leave.

The Education Department says there may be some school bus route disruptions in the Halifax area and in other education regions, adding that families will be notified if there are delays or route changes.

The Seniors and Long-Term Care Department says pre-vaccine mandate labour shortages could mean some facilities and home-care agencies may not be able to accept new residents because of the small number of unvaccinated staff.

1:45 p.m.: The city of Toronto is hoping to set an example for other employers by ordering thousands of employees working remotely during the pandemic back into city workplaces, at least part-time, starting Jan. 4.

Mayor John Tory told reporters Tuesday he is concerned about the economic impacts of empty office towers and other downtown Toronto workplaces and believes staff can safely return to work at least three days per week.

All city buildings, such as city hall and the suburban civic centres, will reopen, including kiosks for members of the public, and in-person meetings with accommodation for remote participation by the public.

Read the full story from the Star’s David Rider

1:25 p.m.: The economy bounced back sharply in the third quarter of the year after taking a walloping in the preceding three-month stretch, in a demonstration of what may be in store as COVID-19 concerns wane and Canadians start spending anew.

Statistics Canada said Tuesday the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.4 per cent in the third quarter of this year as COVID-19 restrictions eased and household spending rose.

The result was a rebound from a contraction in the second quarter that Statistics Canada also said Tuesday was deeper than it previously reported.

Quarterly growth in household spending was one of the largest on record. Consumers spent their money at restaurants, bars, hotels and on air travel, which jumped 181.9 per cent as more travellers took to the skies.

12:50 p.m. South Africa’s envoy in Ottawa is calling on Canada to support a waiver on patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines as her country copes with the fallout of its discovery of the new Omicron variant.

South African High Commissioner Sibongiseni Dlamini-Mntambo criticized Canada’s ban on travel from southern African countries as both shocking and knee-jerk after scientists from her country discovered the new variant of concern and dutifully reported it to the World Health Organization.

Dlamini-Mntambo tells The Canadian Press that the emergence of Omicron is rooted in the vaccine inequity that has resulted in less than one-quarter of her country being fully vaccinated, while children in the West get their first shots and some adults their third.

12:35 p.m.: Edmonton Oilers defenceman Cody Ceci has been placed in COVID-19 protocol.

The team said it cancelled practice Tuesday for “precautionary reasons.”

The Oilers were not the only team with a member entering COVID-19 protocol. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and St. Louis Blues forward Tyler Bozak also entered the protocol Tuesday,

Edmonton also placed veteran defenceman Duncan Keith on injured reserve after he suffered an upper-body injury against the Dallas Stars on Nov. 23.

12:20 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 784 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and three more deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

Health authorities say COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by one compared with the prior day, to 227, after 25 people entered hospital and 24 people were discharged. The number of intensive care patients rose by six, to 51.

The province says 19,732 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were given on Monday, including more than 11,000 first shots to the five-to-11 age group.

The Health Department says more than 81,000 children aged five to 11 have received a first dose of vaccine since last Wednesday, adding that more than 143,000 have booked an appointment to get one.

11:55 a.m.: Ontario is reporting another 687 COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, according to its latest report released Tuesday morning.

Ontario has administered 27,129 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 22,978,037 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 11,718,308 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 89.9 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 78.8 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan

11:15 a.m.: Rob Chorley wanted two songs played at his funeral: “Stand by Me” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

The 67-year-old wrote the request into a will he didn’t think he’d need for a long time. He was retired, with years of golf, travel and grandchildren ahead. In February, he went to the Mississauga Hospital to have a benign tumour removed from his spine. The surgery went well, but a week later, the hospital called to say he was possibly exposed to COVID-19.

He tested positive, and his situation worsened. His family couldn’t be with him when he died, and they couldn’t sing those songs at his small funeral. Singing wasn’t allowed.

Read the full story from the Star’s Katie Daubs

11:03 a.m.: With three deaths reported Tuesday, 10,000 Ontarians have now died with COVID-19, in a pandemic that stunned a generation and permanently altered lives. Nationwide, the toll is nearing 30,000. The coronavirus has exposed cracks in health-care systems, highlighted social inequities, and presented an unprecedented challenge for governments and ordinary people alike who faced an invisible enemy together, if often in isolation from those they loved.

As the province marks this awful milestone, many wonder: how will we remember the impact of this virus for generations to come? Will we want to remember?

Read the full story from the Star’s Nadine Yousif and Katie Daubs

10:30 a.m.: A rebel Russian monk who castigated the Kremlin and denied that the coronavirus existed was convicted Tuesday on accusations of encouraging suicides and given a 3 1/2-year prison sentence.

The monk, Father Sergiy, was arrested in December 2020 on charges of inciting suicidal actions through sermons in which he urged believers to “die for Russia,” breaching the freedom of conscience and making arbitrary moves. He rejected the accusations and his lawyers said they would appeal Tuesday’s ruling by Moscow’s Ismailovo District Court.

Father Sergiy reacted to the verdict with a biblical “Do not judge and you will not be judged.”

10:18 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 687 new COVID-19 cases. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated represent 23.6 per cent of Ontario’s total population and amount to 329 of Ontario’s 687 new reported cases. 50 cases are in individuals with an unknown vaccination status, according to tweets from Health Minister Christine Elliott.

In Ontario, 22,978,037 vaccine doses have been administered. Nearly 89.9 per cent of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and nearly 86.4 per cent have two doses.

10:10 a.m. The little shop below 88 Erskine Ave., a towering condominium near Yonge and Eglinton, has all the makings of a typical Toronto convenience store. The shelves are filled with basic groceries and household items, refrigerated sodas and a generous supply of beef jerky.

What it’s missing, though, are people. No clerks stocking the shelves, no cashier manning the till. Customers come and go, but the store is tucked away in a basement next to an underground parking lot, so foot traffic is light.

This is Aisle24, the fully automated brainchild of Toronto entrepreneur John Douang. The business began as a novelty concept in 2015, when Douang was enlisted by a developer to design a “frictionless” bodega for students at Centennial College. It has since become a rapidly expanding franchise tailored to the current era of public health restrictions and shifts in the labour market.

Read the full story from the Star’s Jacob Lorinc

10 a.m.: A new report says droves of Canadian workers have experienced burnout during the pandemic and it’s causing at least 20 per cent to seek new jobs.

The report from human resources software company Ceridian found 84 per cent of the 1,304 Canadian workers surveyed by Hanover Research last month felt burned out over the last two years.

The figures were extrapolated from a survey of 6,898 people working at companies with at least 100 employees across Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

9 a.m.: Statistics Canada says the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.4 per cent in the third quarter of this year.

The result is a turnaround for an economy that shrank in the second quarter, and outpaced economists’ expectations for growth in real gross domestic product between July and September. Statistics Canada says household spending rose in the quarter as restrictions eased, creating a greater demand for exports.

The quarter ended with the economy edging up by 0.1 per cent in September. The agency also says that preliminary data suggests the economy grew by 0.8 per cent in October to start the final quarter of the year. Statistics Canada says that with that estimate, total economic activity was about 0.5 per cent below the pre-pandemic level recorded in February 2020.

8:50 a.m.: The president of a club enduring a COVID-19 outbreak is planning to sue the Portuguese league official who said his team wanted to play last weekend despite having only nine players.

Belenenses kicked off on Saturday and trailed Benfica 7-0 by halftime. The match was abandoned early in the second half after Belenenses went down to six players.

Health authorities later determined that 13 cases of the new omicron variant were detected within club members.

Benfica released a statement on Monday lamenting “one of the saddest episodes in the history of Portuguese soccer.”

8:15 a.m.: The Team Toronto Kids COVID-19 vaccination plan has helped more than 10 per cent of five to 11-year-olds in Toronto receive their first dose in the first week that the COVID-19 vaccine for children was available in Canada,” the city of Toronto said in a release on Tuesday.

More than 21,536 doses of vaccine for children aged five to 11 have now been administered in Toronto.

8:05 a.m.: When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Toronto, Lorraine Lam’s life as an outreach worker supporting Toronto’s homeless population felt increasingly lonely and distant.

She struggled to meet and connect with her clients due to social-distancing measures. Some were hard to track down because they didn’t have phones. Others were difficult to meet during the winter, as most public spaces were closed. Her inability to help, especially as the colder months approached, left her tired and wary.

As people sheltered at home during lockdown, Lam became hyper-aware of not only the lack of resources and stark inequities facing her clients, but also how different her day-to-day was from people who worked from home, far from the pandemic front lines.

Read the full story from the Star’s Nadine Yousif

7:52 a.m.: In a pandemic that has illuminated how the lives of seniors, parents and children were upended by COVID-19, new research shows that young adults are among the Canadians most battered by the economic impact of the public health crisis.

According to survey results shared exclusively with the Star, the number of Canadians aged 18 to 24 who were neither working nor enrolled in education programs increased during the first nine months of the pandemic. Nineteen per cent of those aged 18 to 34 stopped or postponed their post-secondary studies — a finding that particularly affected Indigenous, Black and disabled young people.

Read the full story from the Star’s Raisa Patel

6:50 a.m.: The European Union’s medical agency chief said Tuesday that it is ready to deal with the new Omicron variant, and that it will take two weeks to have an indication whether the current COVID-19 vaccines will be able to deal with it.

Emer Cooke, the Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency, said that if it does require a new vaccine to counter Omicron, it will take up to four months to have it approved for use in the 27-nation bloc.

“We are prepared,” Cooke told EU lawmakers, adding that cooperation with the medical industry is already ongoing to prepare for such an eventuality. “We know that at some stage there will be a mutation that means we have to change the current approach.”

Cooke sounded more reassuring than the World Health Organization, which warned Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high,” saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”

6:37 a.m.: The Omicron variant was already in the Netherlands when South Africa alerted the World Health Organization about it last week, Dutch health authorities said Tuesday, adding to fear and confusion over the new version of the coronavirus in a weary world hoping it had left the worst of the pandemic behind.

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute found omicron in samples dating from Nov. 19 and 23. The WHO said South Africa first reported the the variant to the U.N. healthy agency on Nov. 24.

It remains unclear where or when the variant first emerged — but that hasn’t stopped wary nations from rushing to impose travel restrictions, especially on visitors coming from southern Africa. Those moves have been criticized by South Africa and the WHO has urged against them, noting their limited effect.

Much is still not known about the variant — though the WHO warned that the global risk from the variant is “very high” and early evidence suggests it could be more contagious.

The Dutch announcement Tuesday further muddies the timeline on when the new variant actually emerged. Previously, the Dutch had said they found the variant among passengers who came from South Africa on Friday — but these new cases predate that.

Authorities in the eastern German city of Leipzig, meanwhile, said Tuesday they had confirmed an infection with the omicron variant in a 39-year-old man who had neither been abroad nor had contact with anyone who had been, news agency dpa reported. Leipzig is in the eastern state of Saxony, which currently has Germany’s highest overall coronavirus infection rates.

6:11 a.m.: A federal judge on Monday blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on thousands of health care workers in 10 states that had brought the first legal challenge against the requirement.

The court order said that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid had no clear authority from Congress to enact the vaccine mandate for providers participating in the two government health care programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

The preliminary injunction by St. Louis-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp applies to a coalition of suing states that includes Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. All those states have either a Republican attorney general or governor. Similar lawsuits also are pending in other states.

5:55 a.m.: The emergence of the new Omicron variant and the world’s desperate and likely futile attempts to keep it at bay are reminders of what scientists have warned for months: The coronavirus will thrive as long as vast parts of the world lack vaccines.

The hoarding of limited COVID-19 shots by rich countries — creating virtual vaccine deserts in many poorer ones — doesn’t just mean risk for the parts of the world seeing shortages; it threatens the entire globe.

That’s because the more the disease spreads among unvaccinated populations, the more possibilities it has to mutate and potentially become more dangerous, prolonging the pandemic for everyone.

“The virus is a ruthless opportunist, and the inequity that has characterized the global response has now come home to roost,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, one of the groups behind the U.N.-backed COVAX shot-sharing initiative.

5:35 a.m.: Canada’s doctors say the COVID-19 pandemic took a staggering toll on the health of Canadians, including those who didn’t contract it, with delayed surgeries and procedures costing thousands of lives and continuing to ravage people’s health.

In a new report prepared by Deloitte for the Canadian Medical Association, researchers said it would cost at least $1.3 billion to end some of the most dangerous backlogs in key health services by June 2022 and return to pre-pandemic service levels.

The report said in one four-month period alone last year, the number of “excess deaths” in Canada not related to COVID-19 infections was more than 4,000 for the period August to December 2020.

Read more from the Star’s Tonda MacCharles.

5:10 a.m.: Unvaccinated travellers over the age of 12 won’t be able to board a plane or train in Canada beginning today, and a negative COVID-19 test will no longer serve as a substitute for most people.

The policy came into effect on Oct. 30, but the federal government allowed a short transition period for unvaccinated travellers who could board as long as they provided a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before their trip.

The stringent new requirement comes into effect as Canada reacts to the emergence of the new, highly mutated Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The discovery of the new variant has prompted border closures and heavier screening in Canada and abroad over fears it could prove more transmissible.

Read more from The Canadian Press.

5 a.m.: Food bank usage in Ontario rose 10 per cent during the first year of the pandemic to the highest levels since the recession, a new report has found.

Nearly 600,000 people made more than 3.6 million visits to food banks in Ontario between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, according to an annual report from Feed Ontario, a collective of hunger-relief organizations in the province.

Siu Mee Cheng, the interim executive director of the group, said COVID-19 has exacerbated the income insecurity and affordability issues in the province.

“This is an extremely alarming trend,” she said in an interview. “The pandemic has had an impact on individuals and families and, as a result, they are coming to the food banks.”

The number of those who needed basic food support has increased by 10 per cent this year compared to the year before – the highest single-year rise since 2009, said the report.

4:40 a.m.: Japan and France confirmed their first cases of the new variant of the coronavirus on Tuesday as countries around the world scrambled to close their doors or find ways to limit its spread while scientists study how damaging it might be.

The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from the Omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”

French authorities on Tuesday confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant in the French island territory of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. Patrick Mavingui, a microbiologist at the island’s research clinic for infectious diseases, said the person who has tested positive for the new variant is a 53-year-old man who had traveled to Mozambique and stopped in South Africa before returning to Reunion.

The man was placed in quarantine. He has “muscle pain and fatigue,” Mavingui said, according to public television Reunion 1ere.

Japan on Tuesday confirmed its first case in a visitor who recently arrived from Namibia, a day after banning all foreign visitors as an emergency precaution against the variant. A government spokesperson said the patient, a man in his 30s, tested positive upon arrival at Narita airport on Sunday and was isolated and is being treated at a hospital.

WHO said there are “considerable uncertainties” about the Omicron variant. But it said preliminary evidence raises the possibility that the variant has mutations that could help it both evade an immune-system response and boost its ability to spread from one person to another.

The WHO stressed that while scientists are hunting evidence to better understand this variant, countries should accelerate vaccinations as quickly as possible.

Despite the global worry, doctors in South Africa are reporting patients are suffering mostly mild symptoms so far. But they warn that it is early. Also, most of the new cases are in people in their 20s and 30s, who generally do not get as sick from COVID-19 as older patients.

4:25 a.m.: Cambodia has barred entry to travelers from 10 African countries, citing the threat from the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

The move, announced in a Health Ministry statement issued late Monday, came just two weeks after Cambodia reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers.

The Health Ministry said the entry ban included anyone who has spent time in the previous three weeks in any of the 10 listed countries, including South Africa where the variant was first reported. Other countries include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and Zambia.